Dojo holds free self-defense classes after attempted abduction in Avalon Park

Deputies still searching for man accused of trying to abduct 11-year-old girl

AVALON PARK, Fla. – After deputies said a man tried to abduct an 11-year-old girl riding her bike with her friend in Avalon Park earlier this month, the community has been on edge. According to the report, the man tried to pull the girl off of her bike by grabbing her shoulder, but the girl’s 11-year-old friend was able to save her from the attempted abductor by pulling her other shoulder. The girls were able to get away, but deputies are still searching for the accused man.

With the incident leaving community members feeling uneasy, an Avalon Park dojo wants to make sure young girls know the importance of self-defense should they find themselves in a similar situation.

Championship Martial Arts hosted a free self-defense class for young girls on Sunday morning. The class was completely full, and the girls came prepared to learn potentially lifesaving skills.

Mike Metzger, a co-owner of the dojo, told News 6 that the Avalon Park community came to him and asked for help after the incident earlier this month.

“Nobody pays attention until it happens in their community,” Metzger said. “The unfortunate thing is this stuff happens, and you never know when or where it's going to happen."

Metzger said the dojo is teaching safety awareness, things the girls can do in case they’re in a similar situation and what to do to get out of that situation.

The girls learned safety techniques, including yelling, how to strike an attacker and how to get away, but the big goal is making sure they're more aware of their surroundings.

"We want to teach common sense before self-defense," Metzger said.

That session was just one of the ways Avalon Park came together to get results. Residents and businesses also raised money to buy safety whistles and personal sirens for every child -- tools parents said they're grateful for, but hope their kids will never have to use.

Jennifer May is one of several concerned parents who wants children to be prepared.

“We're going to get tools for them to use, training for them. This will not happen again, hopefully,” May said.

So many parents wanted their kids to take the free self-defense class that the dojo added an extra session for Sunday.

News 6 learned that 60 kids learned these life-saving skills on Sunday, and that the dojo plans to hold more classes in the future.

Orange County deputies are still looking for the man who they said tried to grab the 11-year-old girl a few weeks ago. 

They’ve released a sketch of what he looks like, describing him as white with tan skin, and between 35-45 years old. He has short, dark hair and some facial hair, deputies said. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a baggy, gray T-shirt with baggy, dark pants, and detectives said he appeared to be unsteady on his feet as he walked.

Crimeline is offering a $1,000 reward for information about  the man. Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 800-423-8477.

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